I’ve written a lot about my experiences learning French, and there are days where I wanted to rip my hair out with some of the aspects.
I knew, from the get-go, that learning a new language is hard as an adult. That much is clear, as is the fact that the process of learning anything is often quite different for an adult learner. And I’ve blogged about my initial diagnostic test that said I would be fine for reading and writing but struggle with oral. I just didn’t have the ear for languages, it was clearly indicated on my test results.
And then I started at Asticou, at a very difficult time in my life emotionally, and with a horrible teacher. Where I struggled. A lot. I felt like the stupidest person on the planet, although it is hard to tell if that was because of the school, my emotional state, the teacher, or just the process of learning as an adult where I went from being competent at my job and getting praise to spending all day, every day, hearing nothing but corrections for my errors. » Read the rest
Just over two years ago, perhaps closer to three, I started using DuoLingo as a way just to keep my mind occupied with French. I have no grand illusions that an app like this will make me “fluent”, and I feel the same way about even the more intensive programs like Rosetta Stone. I think they are good, but the only real way to learn a language is to use it in your daily life. Telling stories that are relevant to you, figuring out how to say something the way YOU would, not the way Jean-Pierre would if he was renting a car in Paris.
I was quite surprised with the program. I thought it would be completely along the lines of a refresher, and then I hit something that was a bit of a tiny awakening in an area that I thought was both easy and settled. The present tense. » Read the rest
Back in the day, when I started my french training, I struggled with the five main verb tenses as many new students do. While the present tense is always considered the easiest, I confess that I always found it a bit abrupt. For example, “je mange” which translates simply as “I eat”. It isn’t the normal “voice” we would use in English, at least not most of the time. We CAN use it, in context, such as where someone might be talking about avoiding unhealthy snacks, and they might say, “If I get hungry during the day, I eat an apple instead.” However, in general, we would more likely say, “I’ll eat an apple”, or, out of that context, simply “I am eating an apple” to describe it in the present. A slightly more passive voice which describes the action rather than takes the action.
With passé composé vs. imparfait, I struggled not necessarily with the rules but with the actual usage – I tend to speak in a passive voice in English, and in my view, that requires the imparfait for the past. » Read the rest